Magic Moments of Music - Montserrat Caballé sings Norma

A Concert Documentary by Claus Wischmann

Magic Moments of Music - Montserrat Caballé sings Norma

Language: English, German, Spanish with English Subtitles
Location: Théatre Antique Orange 1974/Barcelona
Production: Sounding Images in co-production with ZDF and ARTE
Interviews Featuring: Zubin Mehta, Carlos Caballé, Sonia Yoncheva, Olga Peretyatko, and more.

On the day of the open-air performance of Vincenzo Bellini's opera ‘Norma’ in 1974, a violent storm was blowing through the Roman amphitheatre in the ancient town of Orange. The nine thousand spectators had already taken their seats, but off-stage there was a discussion concerning if the performance should go ahead. By the time of this concert, Montserrat Caballé was an established star who had sung at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, at La Scala in Milan, as well as in Moscow, Barcelona and London. Despite the adverse conditions, Caballé and her fellow vocalists decide to perform.

In the end, it is a triumph of vocal artistry, a festival of bel canto that, to this day, is a source of inspiration. The wind can clearly be heard throughout the performance, and costumes, trains, scarves and robes billow up, creating a spontaneous drama all of their own. Costume designer Gioia Fiorella Mariani, the niece of Roberto Rossellini, talks about her fears that the metres-long trains would rip apart. To her surprise, she encounters the tearful singer after the acclaimed performance and learns that she is in fear for her health. As it turns out, Montserrat Caballé must undergo an operation immediately after her appearance in Orange.

For this film, Montserrat Caballé’s brother, Carlos Caballé, has given the first interview since the death of his sister in October 2018. Carlos had accompanied her throughout her life and was also in attendance for the rehearsals and performances in Orange in 1974. Soprano Sonia Yoncheva and Olga Peretyatko tell of their admiration for "La Superba", as Caballé was known to her fans. And just a few short years after this performance, Maria Callas would describe Caballé her as her true successor – high praise indeed.